Be sensible' plea to Devon despite Covid rates being among lowest in England

    Devon’s health chiefs and leaders are urging people to ‘be sensible’ as social contact and mixing increases as England moves out of lockdown. The nation moved into step 2 of the roadmap from Monday, which among others saw the opening of non-essential retail, personal care premises, gyms, as well as allowing pubs and restaurants to reopen outdoors.

    DEVON: BE SENSIBLE MESSAGE

    Devon’s health chiefs and leaders are urging people to ‘be sensible’ as social contact and mixing increases as England moves out of lockdown.
    The nation moved into step 2 of the roadmap from Monday, which among others saw the opening of non-essential retail, personal care premises, gyms, as well as allowing pubs and restaurants to reopen outdoors.
    Devon as an upper tier authority level has the second lowest infection rate in England at 7.2/100,000, with only East Sussex having a lower rate, and coronavirus infection rates in North Devon have hit the milestone figure of zero – with no cases in a seven day period.
    In the seven days between April 3 and 9, there was not a single positive case from the 9,942 tests – from lateral flow and PCR – that were carried out – the first any district in England recorded that in a seven day period since Torridge did in mid-September.
    Three positive cases though have subsequently been recorded – one from April 10, 11 and 12 – but as the infection rates cover a seven day period five days in arrears, it means that for one day, North Devon’s infection rate is 0.
    Across the rest of Devon, in the same seven day period, Torridge (2 cases), West Devon (3), East Devon (8), and South Hams (6) also recorded cases that were in single figures, while infection rates in Exeter and Teignbridge were also below the 10/100,000 mark, with Mid Devon (18.2/100,000) the highest of Devon’s districts.
    Thursday’s Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting heard that case rates in Devon were very low, which council leader Cllr John Hart said was ‘very good news’, the guidance around social distancing and wearing of face coverings where appropriate still needed to be followed.
    And that while the economy has begun to open up and more mixing of households is allowed, it may have an impact on case rates and thus residents are being urged to be sensible in their actions.
    Tina Henry, assistant director of public health, said: “The easing of lockdown will have an impact on people mixing and there may be some changes in cases across the county, but they are very low.
    “The message is to be sensible, as the social distancing guidance still applies and that has not changed, and while we are seeing more people out and about and that is a positive thing, mixing indoors is still not allowed and that is an important message to remember.
    “We are still getting some outbreaks and some in workplaces, but they are smaller in number and not in care homes. Coronavirus is still out there and it is still important to follow the rules and we need to respond rapidly to outbreaks to keep the numbers low. It is important to find the cases, and that they self-isolate, and we understand their contacts and can trace their contacts.”
    She added: “We are operating local zero where Devon County Council are working with the national NHS system but we are taking the cases on day one, so it allows the local contact tracers to contact people immediately and we are reaping the rewards as we are reaching well over 90 per cent of contacts, and doing that quickly allows people to support to self-isolate and any early identification of outbreaks.”
    Simon Chant, public health specialist, added that infection levels were similar to early September and as further restrictions ease, they will carefully studying and monitoring the effects and expecting rates to stay at similar level for the next few weeks, but he said that there was no MSOA area in Devon where there was anything particular to note at a community level, with a cluster of seven cases in the Crediton area the ‘worst hit’ part of Devon at present.
    The meeting also heard that Devon County Council is making lateral flow testing easier to access, as they have arranged mobile community testing in Ashburton, Axminster, Barnstaple, Bideford, Buckfastleigh, Crediton, Cullompton, Dartmouth, Dawlish, Exeter, Exmouth, Great Torrington, Holsworthy, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Ivybridge, Kingsbridge, Lynton-Lynmouth, Newton Abbot, Okehampton, Seaton, South Molton, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton and Totnes, with Cllr Hart saying: “Going out to the people is a good way to do it.”
    And the meeting also heard from Dr Paul Johnson, clinical chair of the Devon CCG that vaccine uptake across the county had been more than 90 per cent, with him adding: “People are doing the right thing to get the vaccine and we are doing what we can to give them the opportunity to take it.”
     

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